Hungary SIG #Hungary Re: Hungarian Jewish Nobles---An Opposing View #hungary

Peter I. Hidas <thidas@...>

Peter A. Gergay wrote:

With all due respect to Dr. Hidas, other history books refute some of his
contentions---even though the central tenets of Dr. Hidas have, by now,
become popular myths... First, the rise of Hungarian Jewry in the 19th
century and pre-World War I 20th century owed nothing to the generally
enthusiastic participation of the Hungarian Jewry in the Freedom Fight of
Participation in the Revolution of 1848 served Hungarian Jewry as a
justification for assimilation. The majority of Hungarian Jews always
considered themselves Jewish Hungarians and not Hungarian Jews. The
Hungarian liberal elite used this fact, and the service of the Magyar
cause was a fact, to justify the grand alliance of Jewish business
and the Hungarian nobility. The Hungarians would have been a minority
within the Kingdom of Hungary without the Jews declaring themselves
"just a religion" and not a nationality contrary what the Croats,
Romanians, Slovaks, and Serb did.

Rather, it was the Great Compromise of 1967 and its aftermath
(industrialization, the enlightened policies of the governments of the day,
coupled with the philo-Semitic outlook of the Habsburgs) which created a
welcoming atmosphere and circumstances for Hungarian Jews to ascend to
heights hitherto unknown or closed to them... In fact, one can say that this
fortuitous cause-and-effect relationship occurred IN SPITE OF 1848....
Both the modernization of Hungary, in which process the Jews played
an important role,
as well as the influx of Jews to Hungary began during the Age of
Reform, during the first part of the century. The Habsburg government
fined the Jewish community for participating in 1848 but otherwise it
was pro-business. >from 1867 Hungarian domestic policy was run >from
Budapest and not by Vienna.

Second, Dr. Hidas states that "It is a hopeless task to prove that John
von Neuman, developer of the atomic bomb and founder of computer science,
Michael Polanyi, Leo Szilard, Leo Lanci, Franz Alexander, Ed Teller and
Theodore von Karman were geniuses because of biological or
environmental factors. Their noble origin, one may suspect, is the
most accidental attribute of their achievements."
The truth of the matter is that with the possible exception of Theodore
von Karman, who was actually a pioneer in aerodynamics, these geniuses were
NOT the descendants of "Hungarian Jewish Nobles."
I agree. but their noble title had nothing to do with their
excellence. They were born geniuses and the environment only made
possible the realization of their talents.

In fact, that most of them
grew up in villages where their father or grandfather was the "town Jew"
(grocer, land agent,etc.) was, in fact, pertinent only in the sense of an
objective analysis of how they wound up in situations where their being a
genius was an entry ticket. By now, it is a commonly acknowledged
biographical fact that they generally attributed their later successes to a
unique, advance (and elite) high school in Budapest, which they attended.
I agree, that could have been a factor.

fact that it was sponsored by the Lutheran church was significant only for
two reasons. First, this school did not feel bound by the curriculum and
regimentation in state High Schools. In fact, the school was famous for
requiring basic knowledge (often self-thought) of subjects such as
mathematics and proceeded >from that point to TEACH THE STUDENTS to think for
themselves, preferably creatively. The second claim to fame of this school
was that they administered entrance examinations throughout Hungary---and
offered scholarships to those who aced these exams---regardless of race or
How many to the went to Lutheran schools?

Hungarian schools designed o the German model in the 1860s. Usually
they were quite totalitarian in spirit. Independent spirit was seldom
encouraged. In the early 1920s the Numerus Clausus was passed in
Hungary; few Jews could go to university. Jewish students were beaten
up, anti-Semitism became state policy. That was the time when our
geniuses left Hungary to study abroad and became actually famous far
away >from Hungary.

Dr. Peter I. Hidas

At my home page you can find some of my writings:
For photographs go to

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